Guess Whose Shadow? - for teachers

Guess Whose Shadow? cover

Illustrated by Robin Brickman.
Published by Millbrook Press, 1996.
Hardcover 1-56294-182-8.

Book Description

Shadows are a fascinating natural phenomenon. If the sun is shining at the right angle, everything in the world has a shadow. Here’s a question: What is the biggest shadow on earth? Answer: Night.

Children are intrigued by shadows at an early age. They enjoy figuring out what shadows are and how they work. They are especially delighted when they discover their own shadows.

With a lively text and stunning full-color photographs, Steve Swinburne explores our incredible “shadow world.” He invites children to look at and investigate the shadows they find around them. Children will discover there is more to a shadow than first meets the eye.

How I was inspired

Lots of things can trigger an idea for a book. A conversation. A newspaper article. A journey. In the case of GUESS WHOSE SHADOW? it was a photograph.

One hot summer day I was driving past an abandoned marble quarry in Vermont. The quarry had become a popular swimming hole, and I thought it might be fun to get some photos. I seldom travel without taking along my camera bag. You never know when a photographic opportunity might present itself. I slung my bag over my shoulder and walked to the quarry.

When I arrived I noticed a boy walking along a twenty-foot ledge. Beautiful light was spreading across the face of the quarry, making everything clean and sharp. The boy was about to jump into the cold pool below. When he did, I aimed my telephoto lens and pressed the shutter. I was hoping I caught the boy’s daring leap in midair. But, of course, I couldn’t tell.

When I had the film developed a few days later, I was thrilled that I’d captured the boy’s jump in mid leap. But what was more exciting was the shadow of the boy against the warm wall of the quarry. The shadow seemed to tiptoe across the surface as if the shadow itself were alive. There was something fascinating to me about the boy and his shadow and the space between them, as if they were two separate entities. I began to wonder whether I could identify the shadow if I covered the image of the boy and the inspiration for GUESS WHOSE SHADOW? was born.

Book Features

  • Color photographs of kids and their awesome shadows
  • Guess the shadow game in back of the book
  • Simple sentences about an important concept

Classroom Connections

  • Play shadow tag! On a sunny day head outside and find some light-colored cement where shadows show up best. The child who is “it” tags players by stepping on their shadows. Play in the morning and at noon. How are the shadows different? Why?
  • Make a class book with each student responsible for a page. Create a book of shadows, patterns, numbers or opposites.

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